Home Read Albums Of The Week: Rufus Wainwright | Folkocracy

Albums Of The Week: Rufus Wainwright | Folkocracy

After lengthy forays into everything from pop to opera, the singer-songwriter comes full circle here, returning to his folk roots with the help of an all-star supporting cast.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Folkocracy — which follows Rufus Wainwright’s most recent studio album, 2020’s Grammy and Juno-nominated Unfollow The Rules — sees the critically acclaimed artist celebrating his upcoming 50th birthday by revisiting his roots, recalling childhood summers spent at folk festivals and watching his famous family on stage. Wainwright is joined on his journey into the past by an all-star cast of special guests that includes Brandi Carlile, John Legend, David Byrne, Sheryl Crow, Nicole Scherzinger, Chaka Khan, Andrew Bird, Anohni, Susanna Hoffs, Van Dyke Parks, Madison Cunningham and more.

“The older I get, the more I appreciate how valuable my folk knowledge is, to have had it ingrained in me as a child,” Wainwright says. “I’m from a bona fide folkocracy who mixed extensively with other folkocracies such as the Seegers and the Thompsons. I spun off into opera and pop. Now I’m back where it all began.”

The 15 songs featured on Folkocracy include folk standards from around the world, along with a unique reframing of Franz Schubert’s Nacht und Träume as well as a spellbinding rerecording of his own Going To A Town, featuring his longtime friend Anohni.

Photo by Miranda Penn Turin.

Other highlights include the sensual High On A Rocky Ledge (feat. David Byrne), a gorgeous, expertly harmonized take on The Mamas & The PapasTwelve-Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon) featuring Sheryl Crow, Susanna Hoffs and Chris Stills, and the album-closing Wild Mountain Thyme, a song Wainwright grew up singing with his sisters Martha Wainwright and Lucy Wainwright Roche, both of whom join him on the new rendition along with aunt Anna McGarrigle, cousin Lily Lanken, and close family friend Chaim Tannenbaum, the latter playing Rufus’s late mother Kate McGarrigle’s iconic banjo.

Produced by longtime collaborator Mitchell Froom (Paul McCartney, Crowded House), the album includes the haunting first single, Down in the Willow Garden (feat. Brandi Carlile), and second single Heading Home (feat. John Legend), a joyous rendition of the Peggy Seeger folk standard. Harvest (feat. Andrew Bird & Chris Stills), is an interpretation of a Neil Young classic. “The music of Neil Young has been part of my entire life,” Wainwright says. “What has always drawn me to him are his lyrics. I think that lyrics are often underrated in today’s music. But then of course with Neil Young you also get these absolutely iconic melodies and the sound quality of his albums is simply amazing. He is the full package.

“To record Harvest was a pure joy. I had never sung with Andrew or recorded with him playing the violin and he is so inherently musical that it feels so natural to sing such a sophisticated song with him. And it was amazing to include my old friend Chris Stills on this track, who probably was fed Neil Young‘s voice with his mother’s milk. Chris has one of the most beautiful voices I have heard and his harmonizing is absolutely delicious.”